57: Done

57: Done

How do you know when a design is ‘done’? And do you ever rework games you previously thought were finished?



The best advice I got early on was that a game is done when you’re making changes and they aren’t making the game better, just different. Most games hit a crossroads where they could go one way or another, but both are good outcomes. When you hit that wall just trust your instincts and commit to one direction.

Alex Cutler

Nothing is ever truly ‘done’.

I published In A Bind. Changed a few cards before it was re-released as Yogi. And even after it sold many copies in the new packaging, there were some subtle changes.

Kitty Cataclysm will be tweaked (2 or 3 numbers changed) for the 2nd edition.

Wibbell++ is being turned into the ELL deck.

Even when published, a game is not ‘finished’. It’s simply a snapshot of how it was at that point. Maybe it’ll be improved or reworked later.

It’s not about being ‘done’. It’s about being ‘good enough’.

Bez Shahriari

As a designer who cares most about what players are saying and doing, a game is “done” to the point where it’s pitchable when there are a) no glaring mechanical issues and b) the players are talking about what they did wrong in this game and how they could improve next time. This is one order deeper than a request to play it again – the game has hooked the player! We rework games all the time. Development usually dictates that we change something to meet the audiences need or a further design constraint placed upon the game by the publisher.

Sen-Foong Lim

I am not sure a design is ever done. You just make a strategic choice to stop trying to take it further. You’ll have made the right choice when a) this game can’t be made any better without making it into an entirely different game or b) the time required to make it better is not worth the vast effort needed. Whether or not this means its good enough to publish is another question: It might never achieve that, or it might have achieved that already some iterations ago.

James Naylor

I think that a game is done when I play it not thinking about all the little things that need to be changed. When I start to enjoy a game as itself, just like I’m playing a “regular” game it’s a good sign that the game is starting to be done.

Théo Rivière

Most games hit a crossroads where they could go one way or another, but both are good outcomes. When you hit that wall just trust your instincts and commit to one direction. — Alex Cutler

I’ve rebuilt games from the ground up with entirely different engines and mechanisms after I thought they were finished. Not that the original version was bad or anything, it’s just not what the game needed to be. There’s no point in being precious about it (even though I *will* sulk for a bit), it’s just time to roll your sleeves up and wonder what can be done differently to achieve your goals. The cliche goes that a game design is never done, and that’s kind of true, I guess – there’s stuff I’d like to change in many games I’ve had a hand in. But you need to realise when a game is Done Enough, otherwise nothing would ever get released! There’s always the option for expansions if the game does well…

Michael Fox

Paul Valery claimed that “A poem is never finished, only abandoned”. I think that it is the same with a game – you could almost certainly tinker with it for a very long time, but sometimes it is just best to release it into the wild…

Sam Illingworth

Games are never really done, just published.

I usually consider a design “done” when it does everything I want it to do, feels fun and interesting to me and other players, and when comments after playtests would make the game different, but not better.

That said, times change — if I “finish” a game and then it sits on the shelf for years, the next time I play it it may not feel “done” anymore. I recently revisited my first real game project, which I thought was “done” in 2007, but in 2019 I felt needed a complete overhaul.

Seth Jaffee

I never know. Really, you can always test more, iterate more and refine more. This is why I pitch games, and try to work with others as much as possible so that I’m not the only one involved in the decision about when to stop working and start shipping. I often rework old games, especially after a bunch of failed pitches, or if my interest wanes and I forget about a project. I’ll come back months or years later and see if new perspective is enough to polish it into a gem.

Jessey Wright

Comments (0)
Join the discussion
Read them all


Hide Comments

This is a unique website which will require a more modern browser to work!

Please upgrade today!